Supposedly, I’m training for a half ironman. What possessed me to do this after not having done a triathlon in something like 5 years, I have no idea. But, 19 days from now, I will be lining up at the Boulder Reservoir to do this thing. This race plays to none of my strengths: the swim is in a nice, calm, warm lake, the (road) bike course is flat with views of Kansas, and the run is extremely flat, hot, and sunny (but thankfully on dirt). I think the reason I haven’t been motivated to write anything in this blog lately is because training for this race has been so… civilized. I go swim laps in the pool, and ride around on bike paths, and run the flattest, most boring places I can find. Part of this is to train myself not just for the physical aspect of the race, but for the mental aspects. Specifically, the boredom. Don’t get me wrong- I am absolutely looking forward to the race and enjoying the training immensely. But I realize that after maybe 5 or 6 or 7 hours of monotony, I will need to mental fortitude to keep going, and so I am trying to force myself to seek that out in training, too.
Not that I’ve been doing a good job of that. I have this training program that I am supposedly following, and every day or couple of days I look and see what I should be doing, and then most of the time I go do something else. I decided early on that I can only handle two swims per week before going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth would drive me crazy. The program initially called for 3/week and now and absolutely insane 4/week. But, with the running and biking, I should be able to do it. That’s why, whenever I find myself mountain biking or running up some steep, rocky trail, I feel like I am cheating. It’s like I’m on the Atkins diet, and the trails are a giant loaf of bread calling to me. I give in a lot, but knowing that I should be running some flat trail in Denver when I’m actually looking out over a 13,000 ft pass makes it just that much more enjoyable.
For example, last weekend I was supposed to ride 50 miles and run 12. So of course, I mountain biked 8.5 mi (seriously) and ran up Chimney Gulch (7 mi, 1600 ft of gain). Because there were sunflowers and I didn’t want to have to drive to somewhere flat and anyway, Kristin had to go adopt a puppy, so she couldn’t spend all day on a bike. And I had to take a nap and then go play with her new puppy. The way I justify this to myself is that the race I’m “training” for is only one day, and the training is my whole summer. Now which one seems more important?
So of course, when Kristin and Darren invited us to spend the 4th of July weekend in Buena Vista, I was like hell yeah, screw the training program, let’s go play in the mountains. Hiking is totally the same as swimming, biking, and running. Bushwhacking to some unnamed passes and peaks and hiking up to alpine lakes with my friends and dogs is good for the soul, if not good for the prospects of me finishing a race in 19 days. And as long as I spend approximately the right number of hours exercising, it’s all the same… right?
And hot yoga followed by a trail run counts as a brick, right? It feels like getting hit by a brick, so it must be good. Today, I went trail running at White Ranch, which is not exactly flat and not exactly smooth, for 6 miles. Which in my mind counts for my 8 mile run this week, since it takes about the same amount of time. Plus, it was good heat training because I went at 3PM and choose White Ranch because it’s sunny and exposed, which I need to get used to for the race. But then I decided I should probably try not to kill Boris (and I can’t possibly go running without a dog), so I chose the trail listed as “shady, with views of Denver” on the way up- knowing that’s an oxymoron, and choosing to believe the “shady” part for Boris’s sake even though part of my brain knew nothing on the east side of White Ranch is shady. Indeed, it was more on the “views of Denver” side of things, but Boris didn’t get heatstroke, and we didn’t see any rattlesnakes, and it was good heat training, I guess. But mostly it was steep and rocky and loose, and only mildly runnable, and tons of fun. We’ll see how the half ironman goes, but for now, I’m savoring the guilty pleasures.